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Pereskia aculeata (Barbados Gooseberry)

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Scientific Name

Pereskia aculeata Mill.

Common Names

Barbados Gooseberry, Barbados Shrub, Leaf Cactus, Ora-Pro-Nobis

Synonyms

Cactus lucidus, Cactus pereskia, Pereskia foetens, Pereskia fragrans, Pereskia godseffiana, Pereskia longispina, Pereskia pereskia, Pereskia rubescens, Pereskia undulata

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Pereskioideae
Genus: Pereskia

Description

Pereskia aculeata is a scrambling vine with stems that grow on trees. The stems are up to 33 feet (10 m) long and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. Younger stems have hooked thorns, and older stems have clusters of woody spines. Leaves are simple, entire, and deciduous in the dry season. They are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide. Flowers are numerous, produced in panicles, strongly scented, white, cream or pinkish, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Fruits are rounded berries, translucent, white to pink, yellow, orange, or red and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

As with many cacti, Pereskias can be almost ignored and still flourish. One of the major advantages that these plants pose as houseplants is their ease, and overwatering or overfeeding them is a bigger danger than neglecting them because it can damage their roots. If you repot them, remember to leave them alone for a brief period to avoid overstressing them and keep an eye out for common houseplant pests. Many of these cacti can't be grown as houseplants anyway due to their shrubby growth habit, and others are very rare, but when you do find out, Pereskias can be good in cultivation.

They like dry conditions and don't need to be repotted often, but it is still a good idea to refresh their soil by occasionally repotting. Be careful when repotting any cactus not to get hurt by their sharp spines and lift the plant from its mix and replace it in a new container before backfilling with soil. Do not water for a few weeks after repotting.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Pereskia.

Origin

Pereskia aculeata is native to tropical America.

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